THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW HEARINGS
April 5 to 24, 1926
TESTIMONY OF JOHN T. FREY, PRESIDENT OHIO STATE FEDERATION OF LABOR
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not care what laws you enact in addition to the present laws what additional punishments you provide for, you can not enforce, it. It is against a, man's own instinct. Without offering any criticism of anyone who is in favor of the law and its enforcement and all that, I can not help expressing the opinion that people become fanatical and eccentric in some states mind. Undoubtedly you will be told the tremendous improvement that has taken place in the lives, in the wealth and the happiness of the wageworkers of our country. Do not be deceived by the manner in which some gentlemen or ladies may be prepared with splendid English to present that picture to you, There are some pictures that can be elegantly and beautifully painted, but if you touch them they daub and they muss up.
In this situation organized labor is emphatically against anything that could possibly be done that would lead to the return of the old time, so called, corner saloon. We are against it soul and body with our very lives. We know what it was. Therefore some organizations ought to change their names. No one that I know of in this country is in favor of the saloon, and there is no occasion for an antisaloon outfit; there never was any occasion for it and never will be.
I think that is all I have to say, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CODMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. O'Connell. I present John T. Frey, President of the Ohio State Federation of Labor.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN T. FREY, PRESIDENT OHIO STATE FEDERATION OF LABOR
(The witness was duly sworn by the acting chairman, Senator Walsh.)
Mr. FREY. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for twenty-three years I have been the editor of the International Moulders Journal, the official organ of the International Molders Union of North America. Far 27 years I have been an executive officer of that organization. I am also the president of the Ohio State Federation of Labor, and I am appearing before you this morning in the capacity of president of that organization because in the State of Ohio we have the center of the antisaloon movement, Westerville, Ohio, and we have a condition that is interesting the wage earners of the State, which I desire to place before you.
The Ohio State Federation of Labor is composed of some 47 central labor unions, some 1,200 local unions, and an approximate membership of 215,000. I would like to say that personally I am an iron molder by trade. The trade we follow requires very much manual labor, and that labor is performed, part of the day, with the dust of the sand of the foundry entering our nostrils. and our throats, and we complete the day's work by pouring the molten metal into the molds. So that it is a work that creates a very great thirst, a thirst which water itself will not quench. Water will not wash out the dust that has accumulated in our throats.
I want to: say, supporting Mr. Furuseth's statement, that men who work at hard labor that compels them to perspire find that if they endeavor during working hours to quench their thirst with water they drink too much and make. themselves sick. So it is the custom, or was
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the custom of most of the molders immediately after they poured the molten metal, to take one or two glasses of beer, partly to cleanse the mud out of their throats, partly to refresh them., and to give them that mild stimulant which they felt they needed after that very laborious work.
To-day very many of our molders endeavor to quench their thirst by home brew. They have not the skill of the brewer, and they put material in their stomachs that is probably not properly made and that more or less hurts instead of helps.
I am interested in the subject not only as the president of the Ohio State Federation of Labor but as a citizen of Ohio, because of the interest which I have in seeing the State I live in develop the highest type of citizenship, and I have found that little by little on the part of the citizens of Ohio there is a growing disregard and disrespect both for authority and for law, due to the Volstead Act and due to the way it is enforced. In all of the years since the American Federation of Labor declared its policy in regard to a beer of 2.75 per cent alcoholic content by weight and light wines, the Ohio State Federation of Labor in its annual conventions has approved of the action taken by the American Federation of Labor, and in a majority of the congressional districts organized labor in Ohio has endeavored to prevail upon candidates for Congress to pledge themselves to work and to vote for an amendment to the Volstead Act which will restore beers and light wines.
I have tried to make myself familiar with the reasons for this growing disrespect for authority and law in Ohio and to discover what moves men who formerly had a decent respect for the law to look upon it with disregard and more or less with contempt. I find that it is partly this, that the principle of regulation has been superseded by the principle of compulsion, prohibition, or force. As I get the illustration from many of our own people who discuss this matter with me, they say, "Well, gambling is prohibited by law, and the gambling house ought not to exist; but the law does not prohibit the manufacture of playing cards, and neither does it make playing cards an illegal pastime. The law regulates dance halls, but Do legislator would attempt to prohibit dancing because it is necessary to prohibit or to regulate dance halls."
In Ohio we have had an illuminating experience with the efforts to enforce the act. We have had, first of all, a Federal agent in Ohio, a Mr. Joshua Edward Russell. At one time he was a Senator in the State of Ohio. As a senator he voted dry. Later on he became a Congressman, and as a Congressman he voted dry. I presume he could not have secured his appointment as Federal prohibition commissioner for Ohio unless he had been thoroughly satisfactory to the gentleman who believed in regulating our private lives by law instead of by custom, education, and appeal to our consciences.
After this Mr. Russell had been prohibition commissioner for some time it was found that liquor was even more easily secured than previously, and eventually charges were preferred against him. He was found guilty and convicted of conspiracy to violate the dry law that he has been appointed to carry out so far as Ohio was concerned. Not only did Mr. Edward Russell set this example, but only a short time ago in the city of Cincinnati 21 of these dry agents were found
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guilty of assisting bootleggers to carry on their business, and most of them were sent to the penitentiary.
Senator REED. Are other charges pending, do you know?
Mr. FREY. There are.
Senator WALSH. Do you think that will have a tendency to deter further breaches of trust by officers appointed in your State to execute the law?
Mr. FREY. Senator, no. Men who are accepting these positions for the salaries being paid, we are fearful would not be willing to take the positions unless there were some income in addition to their salaries.
Senator WALSH. I should think that in your State a man with that example before him would be somewhat afraid.
Mr. FREY. Seemingly not. We have sent some 39 of our policemen in Cincinnati to the penitentiary for working with these dry enforcement officers.
Senator WALSH. I should think that naturally would have a rather wholesome effect.
Mr. FREY. No; it is the opposite.
I am bringing these matters before the committee to show the disregard for law which is developing and which I consider to be one of the most serious features connected with the Volstead Act and the eighteenth amendment.
Senator REED. Did those cases show that there had been large amounts of money paid and cut up between the prohibition officers and the bootleggers or the men engaged with them?
Mr. FREY. The evidence, Senator, showed that there had been a continued split of money going on all the way down from the Federal commissioner of prohibition in the State of Ohio to the constables in the magistrates' courts who, like pirates, go into other communities and break into homes without a warrant--- and some have been found guilty even of planting evidence to get a case--- and hauling men before a magistrate's court outside of the jurisdiction in which the accused lived, where he was fined, and splitting the fines between the magistrate and the arresting constable. I am bringing up these facts so that you may the better understand the reasons for this disregard for the law which is developing in Ohio.
Senator WALSH. I had an idea that the conviction of these men would show an attachment of the people of your State to a strict observation of the law.
Mr. FREY. We would think it would operate that way, Senator---
Senator WALSH. No; but I was speaking about what sentiment it reflects. I would naturally think that the conviction of these men would reflect a sentiment among the people of your State that the law must be observed.
Mr. FREY. As far as I can feel the pulse of public opinion in Ohio, it is this, that the law is impossible of enforcement.
Senator WALSH. I had in mind simply what might be the reasonable inference from the facts which you detail to us.
Senator REED of Missouri. Do you think it necessarily showed an opinion in favor of the law, that the people or the juries would convict men who were charged with the enforcement of the law and who took bribe money not to enforce the law? That is quite different from being in favor of the law itself, is it not?
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Senator WALSH. Oh, you must have misunderstood me, Senator. I did not mean to say it indicated any sentiment whatever in favor of the law; I thought it reflected a sentiment in favor of the enforcement of the law.
Senator REED of Missouri. In favor of the enforcement of the law against bribery?
Senator WALSH. Against anybody who violated the law. I think it was creditable to the State of Ohio.
Senator REED of Missouri. I do too, that they would take a grafter and punish him. I think they do that almost anywhere.
Mr. FREY. In addition to the condition which exists in Ohio of this growing disregard for authority and law I find entering into that feeling this other element, that there is a growing feeling of dissatisfaction and a certain amount of disrespect toward those religious leaders who are abandoning the appeal to men's consciences, who are abandoning methods of education and are apparently admitting that these methods are not bringing the results they want and so are appealing to the strong arm of the law to regulate personal habits and customs.
A short time ago we had in Ohio, in Westerville, the home of the Anti Saloon League, a condition which this committee should be familiar with.
A deputy State commissioner of prohibition, Mr. S. A. Probst, with two of his assistants, for some reason or other desired to secure the conviction of the city marshal, a man named Harry M. Nutt, and they used some of those methods which helped to bring the Anti-Saloon League and the Volstead Act into more or less contempt and disrepute. it has been discovered that Mr. Probst, who has been compelled to resign, and these deputies, who also have been compelled to resign, resorted to using women as a lure in order to secure convictions. One of these women, who has been receiving her expenses and her salary from the State of Ohio, a rather good-looking young woman, went to Westerville, stopped at the hotel, used those blandishments with which she was endowed by nature, and made an appointment with the city marshall, one of the requisites to the appointment being that he should supply some liquor.
Mr. Probst and his deputies, after the plan had been made, followed behind in an automobile, and practically broke into the room where the marshal was, expecting to find some liquor. No liquor was found. The evidence brought out before the Governor of the State showed that not only had this woman been used as a lure to bring men to their moral destruction so that the state prohibition forces could find a liquor case but that she also had another--- there were two women used as lures, leading men to destruction so that these enforcement officers could make some kind of showing.
Senator REED of Missouri. Were these women of good moral character?
Mr. FREY. Senator, I am not personally acquainted with them.
Senator REED of Missouri. I thought maybe you knew something of their character and reputation.
Senator HARRELD. You do not need further evidence, do you?
Senator REED of Missouri. I do not know. They might have been sanctified by contact with the prohibition office. What were their
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reputations? Did you learn that? If you do not care to say do not say it, because it involves a woman.
Mr. FREY. I only want to say this, that the evidence that the woman used as a lure submitted was this, that her husband had been a bootlegger, that he was sickly, that he was arrested by this man Probst, and that Mr. Probst then told this woman that if she would serve his purposes he would not prosecute her husband. Her husband was not placed in jail, and the woman was used in Mr. Probst's work.
A dangerous condition which these enforcement conditions and methods have brought about in Ohio is a steadily growing disregard for the law and a doubt as to whether its. leaders are proceeding in the appropriate way and the most satisfactory way in trying to bring about a higher moral plane among the citizenship, and the resentment against having something held to be a crime which in itself is harmless, something which the human race has done from the beginning with more or less approval---
Senator HARRELD. You evidently feel then that because somebody grafts in enforcing the prohibition law it proves the law bad. If a man commits murder does that make the law against murder bud and justify its repeal?
Mr. FREY. No. I feel, Senator, that the question is not analogous to the condition in Ohio. The condition in Ohio so far as prohibition enforcement is concerned has developed largely into a studied effort on the part of the prohibition agents to prevail upon men to break the law so that they can make an arrest. If our peace officers endeavored to urge a man to commit murder so that they could make a showing, or urge a man to commit theft or arson so that they could arrest him, I think public sentiment would be against it.
Senator HARRELD. But would that justify the repeal of the laws against murder and arson?
Mr. FREY. It might, and it might not, depending upon what the character of the law was. So far as the Volstead law is concerned, the wage earners in Ohio sincerely hope that it will be repealed, or will be amended so that there can be properly manufactured beer and light wines. Among other things, I would like to see the brewery, the winery, and the distillery taken out of the workman's home. We have, no statistics, but I know from my personal experience in my visits to the homes of wage earners in Ohio that there is no difficulty in securing all of the home-made liquor that you want. Most of them are not of a very healthful character. In most of the business men's homes and the places where they gather there is no difficulty in securing all of the liquor that may be desired, and there it is of a more wholesome character.
The trades-union movement in Ohio has discussed this question in its conventions. It has discussed it in its district meetings, in its city meetings, and the sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of modifying the Volstead Act or of putting some law in its place which will make it possible to secure a wholesomely brewed beer and some light wines.
My own conviction is that if it were possible for the wage earners in Ohio to secure a wholesome beer the amount of hard liquor which working men are now drinking would be tremendously reduced, and
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that the still would practically go out of existence, and moonshine would become more a tradition than anything else.
Senator WALSH. Mr. Frey, were you in favor or opposed to the eighteenth Amendment at the time of its adoption?
Mr. FREY. I Was Very strongly opposed to the eighteenth amendment--- and for the reason---
Senator WALSH (interposing). Well, never mind, I only wanted to get your attitude about it,
MI. FREY. Pardon me, but---
Senator WALSH (continuing). Was the eighteenth amendment ratified by the Legislature of the State of Ohio?
Mr. FREY. It was.
SENATOR WALSH. Do you remember by what vote?
Mr. FREY. I can not remember the vote, but it was a very large vote.
Senator WALSH. The question of prohibition has been more or less prominent in your State for many years, has it not?
Mr. FREY. Yes, sir.
Senator WALSH. And it was debated and discussed and talked about, and voted upon prior to the time that the national prohibition amendment was ratified?
Mr. FREY; Yes, there had been several State votes.
Senator WALSH. It had been the subject of discussion in political campaigns?
Mr. FREY. Yes, Sir.
Senator WALSH. And during all that time you were opposed to the prohibition amendment, to the prohibition movement, mean.
Mr. FREY. Yes.
Senator WALSH. That is all.
Senator REED of Missouri. Senator Walsh has asked if it was ratified by the legislature. Shortly before that ratification by the Legislature of the State of Ohio had there been a vote upon this question of prohibition in the State of Ohio?
Mr. FREY. I believe there was a vote.
Senator REED of Missouri. That was against prohibition, was it not?
Mr. FREY. The city of Cincinnati gave a majority, I believe, of 34,000 opposed to it.
Senator REED of Missouri. Have you not elected governors in Ohio on what we call wet platforms?
Mr. FREY. Well, we have had two governors who were known to be liberals.
Senator REED of Missouri. And who were understood to be in favor of some modification of these restrictions?
Mr. FREY. Yes, Do you know about that, Mr. Obergfell?
Mr. Obergfell. And after the legislature had ratified the amendment, the people of Ohio by a referendum vote showed they were opposed to it.
Mr. FREY. I am just informed, Senator Reed, that after the legislature had ratified the amendment the people of Ohio by a referendum vote took the opposite position.
Senator REED of Missouri. Do you know what that majority was?
Mr. FREY. No; I do not recall the majority.
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Senator REED of Missouri. This gentleman over here stated something about 100,000. What is your name?
Mr. OBERGFELL. My name is Joseph Obergfell, and I am special legislative representative of the American Federation of Labor, with international headquarters at Cincinnati, Ohio.
Senator REED of Missouri. And what did you say?
Mr. OBERGFELL. I said I do not recall the amount of the vote.
Senator REED of Missouri. Oh, I misunderstood you.
Senator HARRELD. In the election of the two governors, Mr. Frey, of whom you spoke---
Senator REED of Missouri (interposing). Just one moment, if you will let me conclude. Do you know by how many votes the eighteenth amendment was ratified, how much the majority was in the General Assembly of Ohio?
Mr. FREY. I could not tell you, Senator, but it was a large affirmative vote.
Senator WALSH. Just another question right there: Has either of the major political parties of your State declared themselves since the adoption of the eighteenth amendment in favor of its repeal or modification?
Mr. FREY. I believe not, Senator. I believe that both major parties in Ohio still have dry planks, but I should like to add, that does not mean anything.
Senator HARRELD. In the election of the two governors of Ohio who you say were elected on liberal platforms, that was really brought about by balance-of-power methods held by the wets in the big cities, was it not?
Mr. FREY. No. And the peculiar thing is Senator, that one of the driest governors which Ohio has had in the last 12 years owed his election to an understanding reached at the last Moment with the distillers and brewers of the State.
Senator WALSH. Let us not inquire who that was.
Mr. FREY. It would not be difficult to surmise.
Senator REED of Missouri. Mr. Frey, to what extent is home brew and home manufactured liquors and moonshine produced in Ohio?
Mr. FREY. I can only say this, Senator, in reply to that question: I have gone into no community in the State, and have gone to very few homes in Ohio where I have not been offered home brew or moonshine or liquor which was said to be properly made and bottled in bond.
Senator REED of Missouri. Has the result of this law been, in your opinion, productive of a greater degree of temperance than formerly existed?
Mr. FREY. My opinion is, Senator, that it has been productive of more intemperance and much more ill health. I think it has resulted in the death of hundreds of men who would be good, valuable citizens to-day if they had not put poisonous hard liquor into their systems.
Senator REED Of Missouri. Why do you think that light wine and beer if granted to the people would have a tendency to stop the consumption of illegal hard liquor?
Mr. FREY. Because the average man as I know him does not want hard strong liquor. He wants a mild beverage. He wants it in his
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home, he wants it with his meals, and the only thing he can get easily to day, outside of home brew he makes himself or his neighbors give him is hard liquor.
Senator REED of Missouri. You think, then, that if he could get a wholesome mild beverage, and get it legitimately, he would quit making home brew, and that the moonshine stills would largely go out of business, and that the people would not resort to bootleg and other illegal forms of liquor because of the danger and the cost of that kind of liquor?
Mr. FREY. I feel thoroughly convinced that that would be the result.
Senator REED of Missouri. Have you any other interest here except to promote the welfare of the men of your craft and your general interest as a citizen of the United States?
Mr. FREY. Those are my only interests, and that of good citizenship is as great as the other.
Senator REED of Missouri. You were asked if you had been opposed to this law.
Mr. FREY. Yes, sir.
Senator REED of Missouri. You were opposed to it on the principle that the Government ought not to undertake to regulate the personal habits of the people, or were you opposed to it because you loved the saloon and loved the liquor business or were in any way connected with it?
Mr. FREY. Senator, the reason for my opposition to the eighteenth amendment was this: It seemed to me then and it seems to me now that it is the first blot on the charter of human liberty as compared with all the other amendments, and has no place at all in our Constitution. Our amendments are one and all to guarantee human liberty, to guarantee human rights, while the purpose of the eighteenth amendment is to take away what a very large number of Americans believe to be their inherent right and is an interference with their personal liberty.
Senator REED of Missouri. You were asked if you would be in favor of the repeal of the law against murder if it should develop that certain officers charged with the enforcement of laws against murder should be caught grafting. I understood you to say you would not.
Mr. FREY. I said no.
Senator REED of Missouri. Do you know anybody who is in favor of murder?
Mr. FREY. Not in the United States.
Senator REED of Missouri. The sentiment against murder is universal, and it is acknowledged by every human being who is sane that murder is an intolerable and fearful thing; that is true, is it not?
Mr. FREY. Certainly it is true.
Senator REED of Missouri. So that if it should appear that a jury had been bribed, or that a judge had been tampered with, or that officers of the law had been suborned, the whole moral sense of the world would be not only against the crime but against the dereliction of the officers.
Mr. FREY. It certainly would be.
Senator REED of Missouri. Now, a law that is violated as you seem to think this one is by 90 per cent of the people does not have
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any such moral sentiment back of its enforcement as is the case of the law against murder, does, it?
Mr. FREY. I have been unable to find much moral sentiment for its enforcement, but some political sentiment.
Senator REED of Missouri. Nevertheless if officers charged with enforcement of this obnoxious law were found to be guilty themselves of grafting upon the people, and using the law as a means or extorting money, you think the juries of Ohio would convict and try to prevent scandals of that kind.
Mr. FREY. Yes, and that is the reason they are having them.
Senator REED of Missouri. And even if a jury under their oath would convict a man for selling liquor and who was not a grafter, that does, not indicate that the people of the State believe the law to be a just law at all, does it?
Mr. FREY. Not at all.
Senator REED Of Missouri. That is all I wish to ask.
Senator HARRELD. You are on record as saying that you favor the regulation of dance halls, although you do not favor the regulation of dancing. You are on record as saying that you favor regulation of gambling, although you do not favor regulation of card playing. But you are in favor of regulating the moral conduct of the people with regard to drinking, as I understand. What is the difference?
Mr. FREY. I have been misunderstood if I said I favored regulation of the drinking customs that the people have. That question has not been asked and so I have made no answer.
Senator HARRELD. Well you are Opposed to the Volstead Act and you are opposed to the eighteenth amendment, and therefore you are opposed to any regulation of drinking.
Mr. FREY. I endeavored, Senator, to make it plain that I favor regulation but am opposed to prohibition, not only in the matter of liquor but any other things that relate to personal habits and customs.
Senator HARRELD. You are in general in favor of prohibition laws,
Mt. FREY. I will say regulatory. laws. I do not like the term "prohibition" because it connotes just one thing.
Senator HARRELD. Does not regulation of dancing and gambling interfere with personal liberty just the same as regulation of the drinking of liquor?
Mr. FREY. There is a remarkable difference between what has become a nuisance and what most people consider to be a harmless, pleasant pastime.
Senator REED of Missouri. Is not this the difference: You say there is no harm in a reasonable law to regulate public dance halls where people go and somebody is running the place for money and where immorality may be taught. You regulate that place, but you say the Government has no business to say to a citizen that he shall not have the right himself to dance.
Mr. FREY. Exactly.
Senator REED of Missouri. You regulate, in some places, the location of a livery stable, but you do not prohibit a man from riding a horse. That is the idea, is it not?
Mr. FREY. That is the idea, Senator.
Senator REED of Missouri. You are willing to see, a regulation of the place where a thing shall be sold so as to keep it from becoming a
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nuisance, but you do not propose to go into a man's home and tell him what he personally shall do; that is your point, is it not?
Mr. FREY. That is my point, Senator.
Senator HARRELD. It is not just as reasonable that the law should step in and say that a man shall not put his money on a horse race or on a gaming table? I mean to ask this: Is it not just as reasonable to say that a man shall not violate the rights of others by drinking liquor to excess as it is to say he shall not go into a gambling house and gamble his money away!
Mr. FREY. The law always did provide for those who drink to excess. Now, Mr. Chairman, I should like to leave with the committee the official action of the last convention of the International Molders' Union?
The CHAIRMAN. That may be made a part of the record.
Mr. FREY. Shall I read it?
The CHAIRMAN. No, I take, it that is unnecessary. Just put it in the record.
Mr. FREY. Here it is for the record, and I will say that it was adopted by the unanimous vote of the delegates coming from all parts of the United States and Canada:
Believing that the Constitution of the United States is the chart and compass of our rights as well as our form and structure of government, and should not become under amendment a. code of criminal law, and believing further that the cause of true temperance as well as proper respect for law, and government by law, has not been advanced by the eighteenth amendment and the Volstead Act, we therefore declare ourselves in favor of the enactment of a law by Congress which will provide for the lawful manufacture and, the sale of light wines and beer.
Signed by the resolutions committee.
Herbert L. Wright, No. 17; Ray Dorgan, No. 139; Peter Jacobs, jr., No. 182; C. McKee, No. 296; William Sherry, No. 222; Ernest Derflinger, No. 305; William L. Rapier, No. 27; William Boyle, No. 231; F. W. Felker, No. 413; G. W. Boswell, No. 164; Jerry Galvin, No. 181; James Campbell, No. 84; Joseph Hansman, No. 232; Herbert F. Cole, No. 359; A. Mahoney, No. 66; Noble B. Grimshaw, No. 219; Herbert J. McCartney, NG. 103; J. Sy. McKay, No. 135; John F. Schmid, No. 47; M. Cartnoy, No. 103; R. J. Skehan, No. 167; Daniel S. Callahan, No. 106; R. H. Curran, No. 11, chairman; John F. Dunachie, No. 22, secretary.
Mr. C0DMAN. Mr. Henry F. Hilfers, the secretary of the New
Jersey State federation of Labor.
(The witness was duly sworn by Senator Walsh.)
TESTIMONY OF HENRY F. HILFERS, SECRETARY NEW JERSEY
STATE FEDERATION OF LABOR, NEWARK, N. J.
Mr. Hilfers. I am the secretary of the New Jersey State Federation of Labor, and I have been such for the last 17 years.
The New Jersey State Federation of Labor, representing about 80,000 workers in the State, at their annual convention, ever since, the eighteenth amendment has. been adopted, has passed resolutions declaring in favor of the modification of the. Volstead Act.
We men of labor, and in using this term I mean the vast majority, comprising at least 90 to 95 per cent, are opposed to the Volstead Act in its present form in the State of New Jersey.